PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 21, 2012 The focus of nutrition for good health is quietly shifting to include consumption of food ingredients specifically designed to nourish the non-human cells that comprise 80 percent of the cells in the typical person, an authority on the topic said here today.
Speaking at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, Robert Rastall, Ph.D., cited several factors driving these so-called "prebiotic" ingredients toward more foods. Food scientists, for instance, are developing new sources of the healthful substances for use in a variety of foods, and scientific evidence on the benefits of eating prebiotics is growing.
"Just as people need food to thrive, so do the billions of healthful bacteria that live in our guts, our gastrointestinal tract," Rastall explained. "There's a large and expanding body of scientific evidence that bacteria in the gut play a role in health and disease. Prebiotics are foods that contain nutrients that support the growth and activity of these friendly bacteria."
Rastall contrasted prebiotics to the more familiar "probiotics," already being promoted on the labels of food like yogurt and some dietary supplements. He heads the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Reading in the U.K. and is co-author of widely used textbooks on prebiotics and probiotics.
Probiotic foods actually contain friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus believed to release healthful substances as they grow in the GI tract. Prebiotics are indigestible food ingredients that provide no nutrition to people. Their purpose is to nourish the friendly bacteria among the estimated 100 trillion microbes living inside the human GI tract.
Foods promoted for a prebiotic effect already are on the market in the European Union, and Rastall predicted that prebiotics will gain a greater fo
|Contact: Michael Bernstein
215-418-2056 (Philadelphia Press Center, Aug. 17-23)